Joel Stein’s latest column in Time is an—ahem—very serious look at how to save journalism, and the answer is: with product placement.
“My first idea was to get every reporter to switch beats and cover only cats doing funny things,” he writes. “Then I had some more Pom Wonderful, allowed the antioxidants to flush out my free radicals and came up with the perfect solution: product placement.”
Okay, okay, so it’s not a serious suggestion, but it’s a timely one: the NYT covered today the story of Parent & Child running an ad on the cover of the magazine, which violates the standards of the American Society of Magazine Editors (which Parent & Child is not a member of, so the standards violation has no effect). And February’s Esquire contained a trap-door cover which showed quotations from articles inside the magazine as well as an ad for a Discovery Channel series.
Is this the blurring of a sacred line between editorial and advertisements? As both the NYT and AgencySpy note, newspapers have been running ads on their fronts for quite some time.
Meanwhile, Stein writes:
It was all going very smoothly until my editor’s editor’s editor decided we had a policy against the mingling of advertising and editorial content…all my efforts did was teach me exactly why the proud, antediluvian print-journalism companies are in financial trouble. Not only is Time Inc. turning down $25,000, but it’s employing three editors for this column.